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EducationWorld-C fore Survey of India's Most Respected Schools 2011

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Institution Profile

Navrachana International School, Vadodara

Within two years of start-up, Gujarat’s first internationally bench-marked day-cum-residential school has chalked up an aggregate enrollment of 600 students, including 10 percent from abroad

I
n promoting English medium schools and English learning in general, perhaps the most recalcitrant of the 29 states of the Indian Union is the western seaboard state of Gujarat (pop. 50.5 million). This is evidenced by statistics which indicate that there are only 14 English medium CISCE and 123 CBSE affiliated schools in Gujarat. And the number of new generation ‘international’ schools affiliated with European or American examination boards is negligible. Somewhat surprising given the large Gujarati diaspora in Britain and the US.

But this scenario is all set to change following the enthusiastic response to the Vadodra (aka Baroda)-based Navrachana International School (NIS — estb. 2003). Within two years of admitting its first batch of students, this co-ed day-cum-residential school has chalked up an aggregate enrollment of 600 students, of whom 10 percent are from abroad. This fast-enrollment record is in sharp contrast to international schools in general, which take three-five years to attain similar levels of registration. Carefully positioned as a genuinely international K-XII school, NIS is affiliated to the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), Geneva and Cambridge International Examinations, UK.

The management has taken special care to equip NIS, sited on a landscaped 25 acre campus on the outskirts of Vadodara (pop. 1.8 million), with state-of-the-art infrastructure. Spacious, well-lit, fully wired and air-conditioned classrooms with 18 seating capacity, technology aided learning resource centres, science laboratories, culture and language centres and an amphitheatre, are fully operational.

Moreover NIS boasts a library-cum-media centre with over 30,000 books, 1,000 CDs, VCDs and DVDs and 53 magazine subscriptions. The attached distance-learning studio provides access to curriculums, syllabi and teaching from some of the best education institutions worldwide. The library is also equipped with networked computers with internet access. In addition subject specific libraries are being established in subject rooms, teachers conclave and halls of residence.

"We are committed to maintaining a 10:1 pupil-teacher ratio so that effective learning happens in classrooms. Our objective is to not only make students academically proficient but also to develop the qualities of tolerance, humility and compassion in them. Our mission at NIS is to train our students to become life long learners," says Tejal Amin a commerce graduate of M.S. University, Baroda and chairperson of the Navrachana Education Society (NES — regd: 1965), which has promoted NIS, constructed at an estimated capital cost of Rs.25 crore. A Vadodara-based registered charitable trust, NES manages five education institutions — Navrachana College of Education, Vidyani Vidyalaya, Navrachana School, Sama, NavPrerna (a school for under-privileged children), Navrachana Open School and Navrachana Sports Academy — with an aggregate enrollment of 5,000.

Among the unique features of NIS are the school’s subject rooms/ resource centres. These are large rooms with moveable furniture which is rearranged for different teaching methodologies such as project groups, circle discussions, classrooms or demonstration sites. Each subject room is equipped with hi-tech teaching aids including DVD players, LCD projectors, a subject library with models, charts and internet connectivity.

In keeping with the school’s emphasis on learning by doing, science laboratories are equipped to international standards and encourage experimentation under the supervision of trained teachers and lab technicians. The Art, Design and Technology Centre prepares students for living and working in contemporary technological environments. Visual and performing arts and workshops are held in Kala Bhavan, the school’s 6,000 sq. ft auditorium with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment for learning music, dance and theatre.

The school’s sprawling campus offers numerous sports education opportunities. Outdoor facilities are available for athletics, volleyball, football, tennis, hockey, cycling, cricket, horse riding, basketball, golf and swimming. Moreover provision has been made indoors for gymnastics, carom, squash, billiards and snooker, table tennis, yoga, chess, taekwando and judo. "Expert coaching is available seven days a week from trainers who are outstanding practitioners of their own discipline. Moreover our international standard swimming pool with coaches in attendance is open to all children," says Amin.

A day-cum-boarding school, NIS has capacity to take on 360 boarders in its three residential complexes — one each for boys and girls, and a third for teachers and other staff. All halls of residence are centrally air-conditioned and designed for safety, comfort and aesthetic living. Air-conditioned suites, with bedrooms each with a wardrobe and study table accommodate three students. The study lounge with networked personal computers provides an alternative study environment.

Looking into the future, Amin is confident of reaching full capacity of 1,200 students within the next three-five years. "Within the next two years we want to be rated the best international school in the country, dispensing high quality, globally accepted English medium education. As our enrollment increases we will continuously upgrade our infrastructure, hire new teachers, send existing teachers for training abroad, etc," she says.

With NIS having got off to a great start and a growing number of NRI parents indicating interest in sending their children back home for culturally-rooted, globally benchmarked English medium education, it’s only a matter of time before other educationists follow suit. An English learning revolution may be about to sweep hitherto recalcitrant Gujarat.

Admission & fees


Navrachana International School (NIS) is a co-education, English medium K-XII day-cum-residential school. Admissions are open throughout the year and is subject to applicants’ satisfactory performance in a personal interaction.Academic options at NIS:

Cambridge International Examination’s IGCSE (class X) examination

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), IB Middle Years Program (MYP) and the proposed IB Diploma Program (DP) of the International Baccalaureate Organization, Geneva

NIS is awaiting affiliation with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), New Delhi Tuition fees (annual)

Residential: Rs.250,000-400,000 (class III-XII)

Day boarding: Rs.50,000-250,000 (K-XII)Website: www.navrachana.ac.inE-mail: nis@navrachna.ac.in.

Srinidhi Raghavendra

La Trobe University, Australia

La Trobe boasts 3,500 students from over 60 countries and has teaching and student exchange partnerships with universities around the world

Spread across eight hi-tech campuses in the state of Victoria and a 330 hectare campus in suburban Melbourne, La Trobe University enjoys a formidable international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. The Times Higher Education Supplement, London ranks it 98th among the world’s top universities — a great leap forward from its 142nd position last year. Among Australian universities, TES ranks it 11th. Founded in 1967, La Trobe offers over 450 undergraduate and postgrad courses in a variety of disciplines to 26,000 students.

Arguably the most ‘international’ university in Oz, La Trobe boasts 3,500 students from over 60 countries, and has teaching and student exchange partnerships with several universities across the world including some in China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. "La Trobe has a particularly strong commitment to internationalisation and seeks not only to attract students and staff from around the world but also to provide opportunities for local students and staff to gain international experience through a scheme of exchange programmes. Currently the university has links with some 250 institutions in more than 40 countries," says Prof. Brian Stoddart, vice-chancellor and president of the university.

A member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, La Trobe’s academic programmes are recognised by the Australian government and by professional associations around the world. La Trobe owes its unusual name to Charles Joseph La Trobe, the first lieutenant-governor of the new colony of Victoria who supervised the establishment of self-government, the public library, art gallery, and a university.

Melbourne. Victoria’s capital, Melbourne (pop. 3.5 million) is the second largest city in Australia. Repeatedly voted as the world’s most livable city, it is a bustling seaport, and industrial and commercial metropolis. Built on two waterways, the Yarra river and Port Philip Bay, it boasts scenic parks and gardens perfect for walks, picnics and relaxation with the city skyline serving as the backdrop.

For those interested in the arts, Melbourne offers world-class theatre, concerts and galleries. Exciting nightlife abounds in sophisticated restaurants, cafes, clubs and opulent theatres. Sports lovers have numerous opportunities to witness world-class sporting events such as the Grand Prix, the Australian Tennis Open and the Melbourne Cup.

The city enjoys a mild climate round the year. Summers can be dry and hot, with average daytime temperatures touching 28oC, while winters are usually cool and wet with daytime temperatures dropping to an average 14oC.

Beyond Melbourne, Victoria offers a magnificent coastline, attractive beaches, snowfields with top-class facilities, rich farmland, rainforests and even the rugged beauty of arid semi-desert areas.

Campus facilities. La Trobe University has eight multi-faculty campuses spread across Victoria. They include Melbourne (Bundoora), Melbourne (City), Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga, Mildura, Shepparton, Mt. Buller and Beechworth. The Melbourne (Bundoora) campus is the university’s largest, hosting 19,000 students and staff. All the university’s five major faculties — education, law and management, humanities and social sciences, health sciences, and science, technology and engineering — are represented on this campus. Situated north-east of Melbourne’s city centre, the 330 hectare Bundoora campus includes a massive library, a large research and development park, restaurants and shops, sports and recreational facilities, an art museum, residential colleges, entertainment venues, a medical centre and the Melbourne Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Bendigo campus is situated in a city of 92,000 people, a 90 minute drive from Melbourne. Sited on 33 hectares of attractive bushland, Bendigo offers its 4,000 students a state-of-the-art library, residential, sports and recreation facilities. The Albury-Wondonga campus is a three hour drive from Melbourne and boasts 1,100 students. The other four campuses — Mildura, Shepparton, Mt. Buller and Beechworth — don’t offer full degrees to international students though some courses allow students to spend time in these locations.

La Trobe offers well-stocked libraries on all campuses. For instance the Borchardt library on its principal Bundoora campus provides access to more than 1.6 million documents including books, journals, electronic and audio-visual resources. Sports and recreation facilities include a gym, 25 m indoor pool, tennis and squash courts, indoor stadium, and a ski lodge.

Admission. The minimum eligibility criterion for admission into La Trobe’s undergrad programmes is completion of Plus Two while for postgrad courses it’s a bachelor’s degree. Additionally foreign students have to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. An IELTS score of 6 or a TOEFL score of 550 is acceptable. However some degree programmes may stipulate special entry requirements.

The academic year is divided into two semesters. Most students commence studies in late February or early March. However some courses are open to mid-year entry in July or at other times. Although there is no official closing date for applications, it is important to allow a minimum of four to six weeks for processing. For further information e-mail international@latrobe.edu.au or visit www.latrobe.edu.au/international. Students can also contact any of the six IDP Education Australia offices in India (www.idp.com).

Accommodation. La Trobe offers on-campus housing to foreign students in three campuses — Bundoora, Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga. At the Bundoora campus three residential colleges provide furnished single study bedrooms, shared kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities and recreational and study areas. The Bendigo campus housing options include nine units, each accommodating 12 people in furnished single study bedrooms; the terraces comprising 21 large houses; halls of residence accommodating 176 students; Robert Holmes Village, a community of 28 modern four-bedroom villas and Orde House which consists of 24 furnished single study bedrooms. At the Albury-Wodonga campus, on-campus housing comprises 11 fully-furnished self-contained units with bathroom and laundry facilities.

Degree programmes. La Trobe University consists of five multi-campus faculties — education, law and management, humanities and social sciences, health sciences, and science, technology and engineering — each offering a broad range of study options in a variety of disciplines (see box).

Scholastic options at La Trobe

La Trobe University offers a wide range of undergrad, postgrad and doctoral programmes across five faculties. They include:

Humanities and social sciences. Aboriginal studies, Asian studies, Chinese, Japanese, journalism, politics, religion and spirituality studies, psychology, social work, social sciences, theatre and drama, Spanish, visual arts, writing and media studies. Tuition fee (per annum): A$13,000-14,000

Education. Arts education, nature tourism, outdoor education, science education, teaching (A$14,000)

Health sciences. Ergonomics, health information, management, nursing, nursing science, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, pharmacy, public health and speech pathology (A$12,300-19,000)

Law and management. Accounting, business, commerce, economics, finance, human resource management, international business, sports and leisure management, tourism, law and marketing (A$14,000-16,500)

Science, technology and engineering. Agriculture, animal science, biochemistry, genetics, nutrition, space sciences, zoology, computer science, games technology, biomedical, civil, electronic, optical and telecommunications engineering (A$15,000-16,500)

For a detailed list of programmes visit www.latrobe.edu.au.

Living expenses
(per year). A$13,000-16,000

Summiya Yasmeen

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